Too Many Wars? Too Many Countries?

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I did not have to search far for the countries the United States currently has troops in. America’s longest war to date is ongoing with Pakistan’s neighboring country, Afghanistan. In fact, that is not the only country where there is fighting nearby. According to journalist, Jeff Desjardins, who wrote the article, “U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country,” other regions with troops on the ground include Iran and Syria (1). Also, a presence exists in Somalia, Libya, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Niger, this is a short list of countries that America has taken a side in, sent troops, or assistance (Desjardins 1). Without careful diplomacy, a conflict with China or another neighboring country of Pakistan may occur. 

China recently charged a U.S. missile destroyer with sailing too closely to a reef in the South China Sea that is claimed by Beijing. Reporters, Idrees Ali and Ben Blanchard, wrote the article, “Exclusive: U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea island, officials say,” and indicated that a simple accident or misunderstanding at this point could have serious lasting consequences (par. 10). It is understandable that China would feel provoked in this scenario, but what is difficult to understand is why the U.S. is involved in so many different conflicts abroad. 

The implications are so far-reaching that the U.S is bound by treaties to protect a quarter of humanity. As a professor and expert on political science, Michael Beckley wrote the article, “The Myth of Entangling Alliances” to address this issue. Organization of American States (OAS), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Australia New Zealand United States Security are the largest treaties. The OAS aligns the U.S. with Mexico and 90% of South America, while NATO connects the U.S. to Canada and 80% of Europe. Alliances abroad both hinder and benefit the United States, as the treaties exist for various reasons (Beckley 9).

 The end of drafting soldiers removed much of the burden of war, however military conflicts impact the entire nation. War can transfer power to generals and away from elected officials. Long-term campaigns have increased debt. Political columnist, Linda Bilmes, pointed out costs in the article, “Iraq and Afghanistan: The US $6 trillion bill for America’s longest war is unpaid.” The Iraq War has cost 860 billion dollars and caring for wounded soldiers is over one trillion dollars (Bilmes par. 4). Spending so much money on war limits funds for other needs.

Research made me aware of different wars throughout the various continents that involve the United States. The treaties that obligated us to get involved with some of these conflicts date back as far was World War II. It is reasonable for the U.S. to honor its contracts with allies, but it does not make sense to spend so much money on something that is not a positive return of investment, whether in human lives or dollars spent. I would not have been mindful of the consequences of these issues had I not did the research and I encourage others to do the same in order to better understand the relevance of ongoing conflicts in countries around the world. 

 

Works Cited

Ali, Idrees and Ben Blanchard. “Exclusive: U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea island, officials say.” Reuters, 23 Mar. 2018, www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-southchinasea/exclusive-u-s-warship-sails-near-disputed-south-china-sea-island-officials-say-idUSKBN1GZ0VY. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

Beckley, Michael. “The Myth of Entangling Alliances.” International Security, vol. 39, no. 4, 2015, pp. 7-48, doi:10.1162/ISEC_a_00197. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

Bilmes, Linda. “Iraq and Afghanistan: The US $6 trillion bill for America’s longest war is unpaid.” The Conversation, 25 May 2017, www.theconversation.com/iraq-and-afghanistan-the-us-6-trillion-bill-for-americas-longest-war-is-unpaid-78241. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

Desjardins, Jeff. “U.S. Military Personnel Deployments by Country.” Visual Capitalist, 18 Mar. 2017, www.visualcapitalist.com/u-s-military-personnel-deployments-country. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.